Smelly tap water is a problem that can often arise without warning. When your water has a lingering scent, it can impact your personal hygiene, hydration habits, and ability to host guests. However, there are a few ways to get to the bottom of the problem and treat common odors. Water testing and filtration can help you enjoy healthy water, stay hydrated, and complete tasks around your house without worrying about lingering odors.
Common Water Smells and Causes
If you’re trying to determine the culprit of your smelly water, start by locating the odor’s source. Smells can result from a whole system or specific faucet. A foul smell in one tap can indicate an isolated issue. In contrast, foul odors from every fixture in the home might require a more comprehensive solution.
Here are common tap water smells and potential causes:
- Sulfur or rotten eggs: A sulfur smell in water can indicate bacteria growth, iron or hydrogen sulfide gas. Iron will likely come from your water supply, whether well or city water. Bacteria can grow in various places, from drains to water heaters.
- Chemicals: A bleach or chemical smell in your tap water can indicate the presence of chlorine. Water processing plants add chlorine to kill harmful bacteria and pathogens, ensuring safer drinking water. If you have well water, your water treatment process might also contribute to a chemical smell.
- Musty or earthy: While Northern Nevada has one of the driest climates in the United States, we’re no stranger to rainfall. During wetter months or changes in river flow, the water in the Truckee River can carry organic compounds like algae or decaying vegetation into the plumbing system, making your water smell earthy or musty.
- Sewage: When your water smells like sewage, it could have several causes. The odor can often stem from leftover food or soap in your sink drain, causing an unpleasant scent. It can also be caused by having unused water in your water heater for too long, leading to bacteria growth and the smell of sewage. Other reasons can include a damaged or broken sewer line.
- Metallic or rusty: Reno’s water system is known to have high levels of minerals like iron and manganese. These naturally occurring minerals can interact with water due to corroded pipes, often producing a rusty or metallic smell.
It’s worth noting that Reno’s water generally meets Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards and is regularly tested by local water utilities to ensure its quality. However, if you notice significant changes in your water’s smell or have concerns about its quality, it’s crucial to have your water tested and treated by professionals.
How to Fix Smelly Water
Here are some general guidelines for fixing common water smells:
A sudden sulfur smell in water could indicate the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas. This can make the water smell too pungent to enjoy, and it’s also not recommended to drink water with hydrogen sulfide gas. To address the issue, flush your plumbing system by running all faucets for a few minutes to clear the gas.
If the smell stems from hot water only, it could indicate a water heater issue. Consider having a professional inspect and service your water heater to eliminate the sulfur smell. Professionals can replace your magnesium anode to cut hydrogen sulfide production at the source. An iron filter can also treat your home’s water supply to eliminate the unpleasant smell.
Chlorine is a common contaminant in homes that get their water from municipalities since it is a proven disinfectant. However, the taste and odor of water contaminated by chlorine can make it unpleasant to drink and cook with. Chlorine can also dry out the hair and skin when used for bathing.
Consider installing a carbon filtration system to address a chemical or chlorine scent in your water. The filters can absorb contaminants, including chlorine, and you can install either an under-the-sink or whole-house filtration system to reap the benefits.
If you’re experiencing musty water, determine if the smell arises from all faucets or just specific fixtures. If it’s in just one fixture, you might have a plumbing problem. Check for leaks and water damage and repair them to prevent mold or bacteria growth. Clean and disinfect your fixtures with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Scrub each fixture thoroughly and flush them with clean water.
You might also install a whole-house filtration system or point-of-use filter to remove organic compounds and improve the taste and smell of your water.
When your water smells like sewage, it can be particularly worrisome. You might hesitate to drink or use your water for cooking and showering. If you’re experiencing this specific odor, you’ll want to contact your local water utility or a professional plumber to have it tested for coliform bacteria. They can test your water and make necessary recommendations.
If the problem persists, consult with water treatment professionals. They can recommend activated carbon filters to eliminate bacteria from your water, remove smells, and improve the taste. Water filter systems can remove harmful particles like bacteria and arsenic, giving you peace of mind. Treating your water can also soften it and remove minerals that impact the taste and effects on skin and hair.
A metallic or rusty smell means it’s time to flush your plumbing system. Run each faucet for several minutes to clear sediment or rust buildup. If you notice corroded or damaged pipes, replace them to eliminate the odor. Consider installing whole-house or point-of-use water softeners and conditioners to remove iron, manganese, and other minerals that cause the metallic smell.
In many cases, it can be challenging to determine the cause of smelly water and treat it without professional help. Pure Water Systems of Nevada has the solutions to eliminate smelly tap water and ensure healthier drinking water for you and your family. Our water filter systems come in various types for city water, well water, and commercial applications to ensure your water is safe and clean for consumption.
Our advanced well water systems can remove contaminants from well water, including bacteria, to improve the smell and provide cleaner, healthful hydration. Our experts can provide a free water test to determine the source of the smell and whether your water contains high levels of iron, bacteria, or chlorine.
Healthy begins with your water. To get started, schedule a free consultation today.